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Competition: Chongqing public toilet, China

An open international contest has been launched for a new public toilet in the rural Yongchuan District of Chongqing, China (Deadline: 14 November)

Open to architects, designers and students in teams of up to three, the On the Frontier competition seeks ‘human-focused and innovative’ proposals for a new 30m²-to-70m² public convenience for residents of the picturesque area west of the major southwest China city.

The call for concepts – organised by Young Bird Plan and ceramics manufacturer Dong Peng Group – aims to deliver new hygienic, convenient, safe and energy-saving toilet facilities in three locations within Yongchuan District. Three winners will receive cash prizes and be invited to work with the organisers to deliver their scheme.

Yongchuan District of Chongqing, China

Yongchuan District of Chongqing, China

Yongchuan District of Chongqing, China

According to the brief: ‘In our daily life, one person needs to use the bathroom 6 to 8 times per day on average, spending 4% of the time one day in it. During an 80-year lifespan, one person totally takes 3 years in this private place. The process of urban regeneration cannot be advanced without concerning small facets.

‘A quality toilet, the most private area in public place, will usher in a revolution of public spaces. Based on that, Dongpeng and Young Bird Plan have launched the “On the Frontier” public toilet competition, aiming to consolidate brand awareness and the site’s position in the city, and find an innovative, cutting-edge, practicable approach to reform rural public spaces, by connecting industry, brand, local culture and context.’

Yongchuan is a historic district located to the west of Chongqing famous for its picturesque mountains, rivers and rural settlements. The competition aims to a series of iconic new public toilets in the area and focusses on three key sites in Songgai Town, Zhutuo Town, and another location in the wider Yongchuan District.

Proposals should harness products manufactured by Dong Peng Group and feature male toilets, female toilets, unisex toilets and a management room for staff and storing cleaning materials. Concepts will be expected to respect local cultural traditions and ‘harmonise’ with the surrounding context.

Contest site in the Yongchuan District of Chongqing, China

Contest site in the Yongchuan District of Chongqing, China

Contest site in the Yongchuan District of Chongqing, China

Applications may be in English or English and Chinese. Submissions should include two A2-sized presentation boards featuring plans, elevations, conceptual diagrams and up to 300 words of project description.

Judges will include landscape architect Hasegawa Itsuko, Yuyang Liu of Atelier Liu Yuyang Architects, Lixin Yang from Dong Peng Group, and Fache Gao from China’s Professional Committee of Public Toilet Construction Management.

The overall winner, to be announced in early January, will receive a 30,000 RMB prize while two further prizes of 10,000 RMB each will also be awarded. All three winning schemes will be taken forward for construction by the contest organisers.

How to apply

Deadline

The registration deadline is 14 November and submissions must be completed by 21 November

Contact details

Visit the competition website for more information

Q&A with Young Bird Plan

The organisers discuss their ambitions for the contest

Why are your holding an international design contest for a new public toilet in Yongchuan District, Chongqing?

This competition is launched by Young Bird Plan and Dongpeng Group. Top 3 work will be constructed by local government and Dongpeng Group. The theme of this competition is ‘On the Frontier’, and it is a series design competition. Frontier means here means pioneering spirit and revolutionary awareness brought by this new era. We don’t want a replicated conventional public toilet. Instead, we ask for an innovative design which is human-oriented. As an international design competition, we aim to provide opportunities to young design talents with three key elements including construction, mentor’s guidance and interdisciplinary jury. By now, we have attracted thousands of participants from 2,737 design institutes and 642 universities all over the world. Our platform is open to all designers, architects and design fanciers.

Contest site in the Yongchuan District of Chongqing, China

Contest site in the Yongchuan District of Chongqing, China

Contest site in the Yongchuan District of Chongqing, China

What is your vision for the new public toilet?

We believe the public toilet is not only related to people’s health and ecological environment, but stands for the image of a civilized country. This competition aims to reshape public space through combination with industry, brand and regional culture. The site is 30 to 70 square meters, and entrants are expected to solve existed spatial problem through their design by utilizing materials and products offered by Dong Peng Group.

What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?

This competition is open to people of all ages and background across the world. Every creative mind is encouraged to participate in the competition. We aim to provide a platform for young talents and help them to realize their dreams. For winners, the designers’ right of authorship will be retained. In this competition, the top three projects will be built by local government and co-organiser under the guidance of a mentor. We believe it’s a rare chance for all architects and designers, especially for foreign participants.

Contest site in the Yongchuan District of Chongqing, China

Contest site in the Yongchuan District of Chongqing, China

Contest site in the Yongchuan District of Chongqing, China

Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?

There are many design competitions to be released on our website and people can get the latest news from our website and other media platforms. This April, we held a public toilet design competition in Zhengjiang province, which attracted thousands of participants from all over the world, and winner projects will be built in the near future. We will launch all kinds of design competitions including urban design, landscape design, industrial design, fashion design and so on. All participants are welcomed to join in us.

Are there any other recent public toilet projects you have been impressed by?

What impressed me most is a public toilet with the colourful aurora in Norway. The design that extends to the concrete observation deck and the open view feels natural. The wavy surface of the building covers the entrance, and at night the soft light is like a lighthouse. We hope to create unique works through the competition, which may represent the image of a city and even the country.


Public toilet in Norway

Public toilet in Norway

Public toilet in Norway


Long-drop composting toilet case study: Q&A with Piers Taylor

The founder of Invisible Studio discusses lessons learned designing an ecological toilet for rural Somerset, England

How did your project deliver an innovative environmentally friendly toilet facility which respects its local environment?

The Long Drop was a very unselfconscious piece of design, built around waste materials the studio had lying around. The toilet is part of an ecosystem within the woodland that the studio manages alongside practising architecture, and the waste from the toilet ultimately feeding various plants that we grow. It is completely off-grid. The long drop was built for zero cost and used skills that various friends and neighbours possessed.

Long-drop composting toilet by Invisible Studio

Long-drop composting toilet by Invisible Studio

Long-drop composting toilet by Invisible Studio

Which architectural, material, visual and other methods did you harness in your design?

Other than wanting to make a low impact toilet, we wanted to make a project that could be mistaken as a piece of rural infrastructure, rather than a piece of high architecture. At the same time, as there are no formal paths to the toilet, it needed to offer ‘wayfinding’ for those using the facility at dusk or at night, in a very low key way. It is raised up off the ground for easy maintenance and emptying, and all the timber used was grown on site. The polycarbonate was left over from another project, as were the slates. We enjoy a sense that materials are not infinite, and often, we just use the materials we have around us and nothing else.

Long-drop composting toilet by Invisible Studio

Long-drop composting toilet by Invisible Studio

Long-drop composting toilet by Invisible Studio

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a new public toilet for Yongchuan District Chongqing City in China?

The public toilet is rich with potential as an architectural experiment: it is a rare building in an urban context that benefits from being whimsical and singular, but the public toilet does. Anything goes. It needs to – by its nature – be a ‘closed’ facility, but a the same time offer something to the public realm through its architecture and relationship to the spaces around it.

Long-drop composting toilet by Invisible Studio

Long-drop composting toilet by Invisible Studio

Long-drop composting toilet by Invisible Studio